EAST TAMPA — Officials want to establish a consistent method for assessing maintenance needs at city recreation facilities such as Fair Oaks Community Center.
“We’re trying to bring everything back up to where they should be,” said Greg Bayor, Tampa’s parks and recreation director. He recently gave the Tampa City Council a status report on Fair Oaks.
Some area residents and members of the East Tampa Community Revitalization Partnership have complained about the building’s condition, and a lack of money in the city’s proposed 2014 budget to build a replacement center.
Instead, Fair Oaks’ center, at 5019 N. 34th St., will get some paint and patchwork repairs. There still is no money for a new building.
Planning for the Fair Oaks center was not “far enough along” to warrant limited CIT (Community Investment Tax) monies, Bayor said.
Projects in the proposed budget include “gateway” beautification of roadways in and around downtown Tampa, renovation of the Greco Sports Complex on North 50th Street, and expansion of New Tampa Community Center. Monies for other improvement projects are related to the city’s long-range InVision Tampa initiative to revitalize downtown and surrounding neighborhoods: Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, Perry Harvey Sr. Park and riverside trails at University of Tampa and Stewart Middle School.
In 2011, East Tampa residents attended public meetings to discuss upgrading Fair Oaks Community Center. Those plans didn’t moved forward.
Problems cited by residents include a leaky roof, a hole in the wall of the center’s multipurpose room, missing floor tiles and wires dangling from a missing ceiling tile in the multipurpose room.
“We’re failing to look at our own facilities,” said city Councilman Frank Reddick, who noted Tampa’s recent emphasis on code enforcement inspections of residences and businesses. “I truly believe if we had to get it (Fair Oaks) inspected by our own code people the building would not pass.”
The city should have Fair Oaks on a priority list, the councilman said.
Bayor said city staffers in 2011 estimated it would cost $3.9 million to completely renovate the park and $1.7 million to build a new community center.
City officials anticipate holding more community meetings to finalize plans. But they first want to complete a survey of all the city’s park facilities to determine where the greatest needs are, Bayor said.
Councilman Mike Suarez said the city needs more consistency in how it inspects park facilities.
“We need to know what you need to maintain the parks that we all enjoy,” Suarez said. “If we have a real process in place, we’ll be able to keep track of that so we can build the budget and make sure you have tools to fix whatever you need to fix.”